Event Report: The New York Asian Film Festival 2010

The New York Asian Film Festival came and went in a flash this year (July 15-24), and shortly after I was buried in the San Diego Comic-Con planning avalanche. Now I get to take a two-minute break and give you a rundown of the films I caught from the show, most of which will be released by Sushi Typhoon and Media Blasters … so for once you’ll actually be able to see these relatively soon!! Let’s start the Asian mayhem!!

Alien vs. Ninja: Many moons ago ninja clans protected royalty and whipped out the enemies to their kingdoms, waging silent wars in the treetops and across the Japanese landscape. Now a fireball has crashed to Earth and with it comes DEATH TO ALL NINJA!!

Have you ever watched “Power Rangers” and thought … you know what this show is missing? Decapitation! And arterial blood sprays. Alien vs. Ninja answers this prayer with all manner of bloody endings at the hands of an odd looking rubber suited alien with a kung fu tail and little head seamen monsters that can take control of a human’s mind. Now it’s up to our quirky band of ninja warriors to avenge the deaths of their fallen comrades and squash this alien invasion … very literally.

The pace is quick, with the story flying past at lightning speed on the wire thin premise of “See Alien … FIGHT ALIEN!!” Peppered throughout the tale are scenes of wacky hijinks from the ninja clan’s eldest member, ninja weapon inventor and resident coward. There’s also the tiniest bit of alluded to sexual chemistry between the good looking, neck-bearded leader ninja and a sexy female super ninja from another team. It’s clear the film is supposed to be taken as great fun, a point hammered home when the female ninja has her time in a spotlight battle that looks more like the alien is trying to impregnate her the old fashioned way. A+ for effort, creepy! The result is a damn good time that will make you want to invite over friends and crack some beers as you laugh at all the awesome before you. You’ve got alien controlled zombie ninjas, miles of over the top gore and memorable kung fu battles that will make you cheer one minute and fall out of your seat laughing the next. This one’s a keeper!

Death Kappa: Remember the giant monster movies from your youth with the little boy who befriends the mega turtle and all is sunny until a second monster appears, bent on the destruction of said little boy’s town? The creators of Death Kappa remember this too, but they’d like to tell the story a little differently. In their tale a failed singer returns to her sleepy little town just in time for a hibernating Kappa monster to be revived. The Kappa is drawn to her freakishly chipper song, and all is right with the world … until they are captured by renegade military forces seeking to create armies of creatures to do their bidding!!! It’s Kappa to the rescue, who at this time is human sized and well versed in the art of film kung fu. Heeeeesterical. It’s all so crazy, you can practically hear Loyd Kaufman somewhere clapping.

Suddenly the movie takes a drastic turn, practically abandoning the storyline of the first half in favor of the promised giant monster battle! The city is on fire and a creature of immeasurable power seems undaunted by even the most powerful of man’s weapons. Will Kappa come to save us??!! You won’t care. The giant monsters vs. humans battle is an instant CLASSIC with toy planes on clearly visible wires crashing to their doom with the pilot shrieking all the way down. This is a Godzilla-esque film made for people who like to gather in groups and cheer when people are set on fire. Yes, this is for you, the twisted horror fan! There’s singing and dancing and wholesale carnage. Death Kappa does not take itself seriously, even for a second, and you’ll love it for it. If you like your carnage with a heaving helping of hilarity, this is a must buy for you.

Mutant Girls Squad: The madmen behind Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl join forces to bring you a new twist on the super hero theme. Rin is a shy schoolgirl, maliciously taunted by her classmates on a daily basis … until a vicious attack at her birthday party changes her life forever! Rin discovers she has powers she can call upon in times of great danger, manifesting like some twisted, bulletproof version of Guitar Hero on her arm. The bodies of normal humans quickly pile up before Rin is recruited into a battle squadron of similarly powered young ladies. Make no mistake … this is NOT the X-Men! Power sets include a blazing chainsaw erupting from the ass, nipple swords and … a tummy mouth. The group is led by samurai powered Tak Sakaguchi in a dress and makeup, firmly cementing the fact that this is not meant to be taken very seriously, though the characters would scream at you if you suggested such a thing.

There’s touching drama, exploding politicians, beheadings, dismemberment and a girlie super weapon who eerily resembles a certain boy robot/Asian icon. There’s tons of gore and certainly no shortage of ridiculous mutant power display, as well as a pitched scene of battle every five minutes, whether it be between the government forces packing nose machine guns and robo weapons of their own, or mutant girl on girl death matches! For all this insanity, I couldn’t help thinking this was more of the same, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I was missing. Maybe a certain level of charm from the lead character … just enough so that I’d really like her and root for her in battle. Whatever that missing element may be, it doesn’t take much away from enjoying this film, especially if you haven’t really seen the work of directors Noboru Iguchi and Yoshihiro Nishimura before. Perhaps I’m just desensitized to all this gonzo gore at this point? Who knows. Mutant Girls Squad is still jam packed with over the top, goretastic, psychotic fun with a finale that you will NOT FORGET anytime soon and standing alone, is worth the price of a DVD. That’s more than I can say for 80% of the horror films hitting the big screens in the U.S. these days.

Ancient Dogoo Girl: Take “Xena”, delete the angst and overlying lesbian tension, add three tons of perkiness and a healthy chest area and you’ve got Dogoo girl! Awoken from an ancient slumber beneath the Earth to do battle with demons of all shapes and sizes and she giggles and jiggles her way to victory. Of course, this is a kid’s show!! Why can’t “Yo Gabba Gabba” have more cleavage? I might watch it then. At any rate, Dogoo Girl makes the “nerd-hermit” boy who unearths her a slave to her whims and off they go on adventures with her little glowing idol pal, who also turns into her armor in battle. It’s fun, its silly, its ridiculously upbeat most of the time and oddly, it’s kinda sexy.

What we watched were key moments from the TV show spliced together to make a full length movie. To get the full experience, I recommend hitting eBay for the actual episodes. Our screening also included the original pilot which was far dirtier, bloodier and reaaaaally not for kids. It was everything you’d expect from Noboru Iguchi, the guy who brought you Machine Girl and a little gem called Hypertrophy Genitals Girl. Needless to say, the studio said BLA and demanded a kid friendly lead character and some happy happy joy joy moments to replace the sucking strippers. The end.

Chaw: It’s Jaws with a giant pig. No lie. A giant pig is snorting its way through the countryside, threatening to scare away tourists who come to pick organic produce right from the fields. A frenzied hunt ensues to kill the bovine from hell, but their success that day leads to more deaths as the REAL killer pig attacks!! See? IT’S JAWS WITH A FUCKING PIG!! There is a bit of humor interjected, but it’s not spectacular. There’s a bit of acting happening, but it’s not memorable. What you will remember is that giant fucking pig, because it’s clear that’s where the movie’s entire budget went. He looks insanely good. This is a sub-par horror effort and at best, something you pop in when your friends are REALLY stoned out of their minds. If you love Jaws so much you’d like to see the same movie in different locals with other giant animals, then Chaw is the film you’ve been waiting for. Next, I would like to see a movie about a killer giant gold fish that walks on the land called Pucker Up. Make it happen.

Check out our gallery from the event here!


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